This week I wish to examine just how much we want the government to interfere in our lives in the pursuit of good.
Let us begin with the vexed question of tobacco.
I am a non smoker. I accept the medical advice that smoking can be damaging to your health. I decided not to smoke as a teenager, when I discovered that my lungs rejected smoke when I tried a cigarette. I always disliked the smell of tobacco smoke, and the taste smoking left in my mouth.
I am also a freedom lover. If tobacco remains a legal substance I have no wish to stop others smoking in ways which do not annoy others.
The law has moved on, and now favours the majority who do not smoke and controls the places where smokers can smoke. Today the issue is should the law be moved further?
Australia says the law should dictate the packets used for the cigarettes. After all, tv advertising has been banned, sponsored smoking in films and at sports events has been terminated and other actions taken to make it difficult to promote the sales of cigarettes.
As always, government has a conflicted of interest in this topic. As health custodian it wants to cut cigarette consumption. As tax collector, it finds the duties on tobacco very useful.
Should government leave things as they are? Should it ban more advertising/promotion like the packet designs? Should it make smoking illegal?